Frank White, Pawnee Prophet

In 1889, a Paiute prophet known as Wovoka in Nevada died during an eclipse and then returned to life with a message and dance for his people. The word of Wovoka’s vision quickly spread to other tribes and the religious movement known as the Ghost Dance began.

In 1890, Sitting Bull, a Northern Arapaho spiritual leader from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, brought the Ghost Dance to the tribes in Oklahoma, including the Comanche.

One of the visitors at an 1891 Comanche Ghost Dance in Oklahoma was Frank White. He sat on the north side of the dance area and ate a lot of peyote. When the Comanche asked him who he was, he said that he was Pawnee. Following the Comanche Ghost Dance, he attended a Ghost Dance among the Wichita. There he once again ate peyote, he watched the dance, and then he joined it.

While dancing, Frank White went into a trance where he saw the stream, the tree, the Messiah, and the village of the people. He saw the people dance, and in his trance he joined them and from them he learned Ghost Dance songs in Pawnee. The English words to the first song he learned are:

The place whence you come,

Now I am longing for.

The place whence you come,

Now I am ever mindful of.

When he woke from the trance he told the people what he had seen. In this way, Frank White became a prophet and the people felt that he had the same power as Sitting Bull, the Arapaho Ghost Dance leader.

When he returned home to the Pawnee he began to teach the doctrine and the songs of the Ghost Dance to the southern bands. He told the people:

“The kingdom is coming soon now, so the people must prepare. This that I have is called ghost dancing. You must stop working because when the kingdom comes you won’t take plows or things like that along. That’s not ours.”

The version of the Ghost Dance that Frank White gave to the Pawnees was not the same one Sitting Bull had given to the Caddos. In addition, the dance had a different focus than Ghost Dance advocated by the Paiute prophet Wovoka.

While White saw himself as a prophet as a new religious movement, he was also respectful of Pawnee culture. He met with the elders and discussed his vision. The elders accepted his vision and were satisfied with him in the role of Ghost Dance prophet.

Frank White, who was of the Kitkahaxki band, began holding regular Ghost Dances and members of the Skiri band were attending. At first, the songs included Arapaho and Wichita songs as well as the Pawnee songs he had learned in his trance. During the dances, people would have visions which explained other ceremonies which they should be doing. In this way, the Ghost Dance began to grow among the Pawnee.

The Ghost Dance doctrine among the Pawnee held that the dead could communicate with the living through the visions brought about during the dance. Hundreds of Pawnee gathered to dance the new dance so that they could see their deceased loved ones. Anthropologist Alice Beck Kehoe, in her book The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization, reports:

“Then a truly marvelous thing happened: In the visions, people saw not only relatives but also the dead doctors and priests. These leaders instructed the visionaries in the performances of the rituals and healing arts and advised them to carry out the practices as best they could under the reservation circumstances.”

In addition to face painting, the Pawnee Ghost Dance included the use of feathers as hair ornaments. In the trance visions, people usually found themselves associated with either the eagle or the crow and thereafter they wore feathers to symbolize this vision.

At the beginning of each dance a woman would be chosen to bless the dance grounds. She would be seated at the door of White’s tipi with her face painted. For this one day she was holy. At the end of each day of dancing, the dancers moved to the center of the circle and then back out slowly shaking their blankets and shawls. In this way they cast off the burdens of the day.

The United States government became concerned about the growing popularity of the Ghost Dance movement and in 1891 the Indian agent wrote to Frank White and ordered him to cease holding Ghost Dances. In addition, White was ordered to return to the Kiowa or Wichita agency. In an article in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Todd Leahy reports:

“White, however, chose not to leave his people or abandon the Ghost Dance. Moreover, he moved to widen the ceremony’s body of adherents, and in late December 1891 Delawares, Otoes, and Osages attended dances on the Pawnee reservation.”

In 1892 the government realized that the Pawnee were still doing the Ghost Dance and set out to stop it. The Indian agency clerk met with Frank White and told him that he was an impostor and that he was to leave the reservation and never return.  The following morning, over 200 Pawnee, painted with Ghost Dance colors, surrounded the agency and demanded a council. The agent told them that they were following a false Messiah and that the Ghost Dance would not be tolerated. In the words of the agent:

“I plainly told them that the dance could not be tolerated and would not be; that this government would last and assert her power, and that they should be obedient to the law and be good Indians, return to their homes and cultivate their farms and raise something to eat.”

Following the meeting, the Pawnee continued to gather in secret in order to Ghost Dance.

Fearing that the Ghost Dance would interfere with the government’s plan to break up the reservations into allotments, Frank White was arrested remanded to jail. The Pawnee decided to fight to get their prophet back and a party of armed warriors gathered at the railroad station to take him from the marshal. However, the agent sent a telegram and when the train arrived it was filled with soldiers. The Pawnee decide that there were too many soldiers and so the marshal left with White.

While Frank White was away, many Pawnee were persuaded to choose allotments. According to anthropologist Alexander Lesser, in his book The Pawnee Ghost Dance Hand Game: Ghost Dance Revival and Ethnic Identity:

“It must be remembered that in dividing up their land, and selling a good part of it, the Pawnee were doing something which was opposed to the faith and doctrine of the Ghost Dance.”

After several days in jail a writ of habeas corpus was issued. The judge gave White a lecture on the dangers of indulging in the Ghost Dance. He was then released and returned to the reservation.

While Frank White was in jail, William Hunt emerged as a new Ghost Dance leader. Hunt drastically altered the Ghost Dance.  Rather than dancing, Hunt offered a doctrine that included the laying on of hands. White was angered by the new development and demanded that Hunt be arrested and deported for practicing the Ghost Dance. The agent ignored the demand feeling that it was to his advantage to let the Ghost Dance leaders quarrel among themselves.

Among the Pawnee, Frank White was considered to be the sole authentic prophet of the Ghost Dance and its doctrine. Those who had visions reported them to him. White granted permission to use the vision, to wear feathers, to paint the face, and to put on a dance. For conferring these rights, White was usually given gifts.

Frank White did not live up to the ideals of conduct for a spiritual leader among the Pawnee.  He used peyote – which the Pawnee felt made him wise – but he drank whiskey at the same time. According to one of his contemporaries:

“Whiskey and peyote do not mix, they cannot go together. That’s what killed him.”

He died in 1893, but the Ghost Dance that he brought to the Pawnee continued to live.

Religion on the Fort Hall Reservation, 1867 to 1899

Following the American Civil War, the federal policy toward Indians was to confine them to reservations and to reduce the size of reservation to accommodate non-Indian agricultural, grazing, mining, and railroad interests. On the reservation, Indians were to become farmers, even if the reservation land was not suitable to farming; they were to become English-speaking and use of Native languages was often punished; and they were to become Christian and to accomplish this Native religious practices were suppressed, sometimes with force of arms.

From the viewpoint of many federal officials, Indians were Indians were Indians: in other words, they often failed to recognize that there were differences between tribes. In creating reservations, the United States often put tribes which had different cultures, languages, and religions on the same reservation assuming that all Indians were the same.

The Fort Hall Reservation

       When the first non-Indians from the Mormon settlements in Utah began to discover what is now southern Idaho, they found that it was occupied by two somewhat related tribes: the Shoshone (also spelled Shoshoni) and the Bannock. Culturally, the two tribes shared a common heritage and a similar worldview. They spoke closely related languages. Historian John Heaton, in his book The Shoshone-Bannocks: Culture and Commerce at Fort Hall, 1870-1940 writes:

“Shoshones spoke Central Numic, whereas Bannocks, who began to intermarry with Shoshones in Idaho in the early eighteenth century, spoke Western Numic.”

The Shoshone tribes were found throughout the Great Basin area. Those who lived in southern Idaho are generally grouped together as Northern Shoshone and included the Fort Hall Shoshone, the Lemhi Shoshone, the Mountain Shoshone, the Bruneau Shoshone, and the Boise Shoshone.

The Bannock, who call themselves Bana’kwut (“Water People”), were called Buffalo Eaters and Honey Eaters by other tribes. The Bannock had migrated into the southern Idaho area from the desert areas of southeastern Oregon.

In 1867, President Andrew Johnson issued an executive order creating the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho for the Boise-Bruneau Shoshone. The executive order also set aside 1.8 million acres as a separate reservation for the Bannock. Two years later, the Fort Hall Reservation was formally opened for the Shoshone and Bannock. In their book An Introduction to the Shoshoni Language: Dammen Daigwape, Drusilla Gould and Christopheer Loether report:

“The opening of the reservation began a period of ethnic cleansing and hardship for the Shoshone-Bannock unlike anything they had ever experienced before. They were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to the reservation. On the reservation they found little food, no opportunities, and very little hope for the future.”

The Government and Christian Missionaries

In 1869, the Board of Indian Commissioners recommended that, with regard to Indians, it was the duty of government to:

“protect them, to educate them in industry, the arts of civilization, and the princi­ples of Christianity.”

The Board of Indian Commissioners also recommended that schools be established to introduce English to every tribe. According to the Board:

“The teachers employed should be nominated by some religious body having a mission nearest to the location of the school. The establishment of Christian missions should be encouraged, and their schools fostered.”

In 1870, President Ulysses Grant established his Peace Policy in which the administration of reservations was turned over to Christian missionary groups. According to James White in an article in Chronicles of Oklahoma:

“Under the terms of the Peace Policy, a single religious group had a franchise over the evangelizing efforts on each reservation.”

Under the Peace Policy, the Shoshone and Bannock of the Fort Hall Reservation were assigned to the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1871. The church, however, failed to send a missionary to the reservation. The Indian agent requested funds to build a mission and mission residence, but the federal government did not earmark any monies for this purpose. According to Brigham Madsen, in his book The Northern Shoshoni:

“When no funds were earmarked for these purposes, apparently the church again responded with dedicated apathy.”

In 1871, a Catholic priest visited the Shoshone and Bannock on the Fort Hall Reservation and requested that the reservation be re-assigned to the Catholic Church. The Department of the Interior responded by transferring it from the Methodists to the Catholics. The Catholic missionary, however, was on the reservation for only a few months and then left because there were no facilities for him.

In 1873, the Shoshone and Bannock of the Fort Hall Reservation were assigned to the Methodist Church. The new Indian agent preached sermons to the Indians, but one army officer charged that the agent was not promoting material progress on the reservation.

In 1875, an Indian teacher from the Methodist Episcopal Church was appointed to the Shoshone and Bannock of the Fort Hall Reservation. He organized a church society of six members, held church services every Sunday, and established a Sunday school.

In 1887, the Connecticut Indian Association, an auxiliary of the Women’s National Indian Association, contacted the Fort Hall Reservation. The Association was willing to send two missionaries to convert the Shoshone and Bannock if the government would build a cottage for them, provide them with 3-4 acres of land, and allow them to get supplies from the government store. As a result, two women missionaries arrived at the reservation.

Mormons

       Like American Indian religions, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly called the Mormons, was discouraged by the American government and many reservations were closed to Mormon missionaries. The Mormon missionaries often worked among off-reservation Indians.

Mormon missionaries under the leadership of George Washington Hill traveled to southern Idaho in 1873 where they baptized about 100 Shoshone and Bannock. Lawrence Coates, in an article in Idaho Yesterdays, writes:

“Relying upon his previous experiences with the Shoshoni, Hill used his ability to speak their language to tell them of the Book of Mormon, depicting its story by placing pictures on a scroll.”

The Indians were then settled on farmland near Brigham City, Utah. The Indians named the community Washakie, after a Shoshone Chief.

In 1877, in response to the establishment of a Mormon farm for the Shoshone, non-Indians again demanded that the Indians be forcibly returned to the Fort Hall Reservation. Rumors circulated that the Indians were well-armed and that their horses were in good condition. The district attorney reported that the Indians had become members of the Mormon church, that they were under Mormon control, and thus they were “disloyal.” He recommended that the Indians be returned to the reservation and that the missionary should be charged with “illegally tampering with the Indians.” While the district attorney argued that military force be used to move the Indians, the Indian agent noted that the Indians in question had never resided at Fort Hall but had always made the Bear River area their home.

The agent of the Fort Hall Reservation in 1883 estimated that 300 Bannock and Shoshone were now members of the Mormon Church and he asked the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for help in stopping the Mormons from instructing the Indians in polygamy and other vile doctrines.

The Ghost Dances

       During the last part of the nineteenth century there were several indigenous religious movements which arose in response to the religious oppression forced upon Indian people by the United States. Two of these movements, both commonly called the Ghost Dance, came from Paiute prophets in Nevada and impacted the Fort Hall reservation.

In 1870, a new indigenous religious movement, known as the Ghost Dance, was started by the Paiute prophet Wodziwob in Nevada. The Shoshone and Bannock from the Fort Hall Reservation became active proselytizers for the new religion and sponsored a number of Ghost Dances.

In 1889, a Paiute named Wovoka died during an eclipse. He then returned to life with a message and a dance for his people. The message called for peace and promised an exclusively Indian world. Thus, the Ghost Dance (not to be confused with the earlier Ghost Dance movement of Wodziwob) was born. Wovoka’s message was distinctly Indian, but influenced by Christianity. According to Meldan Tanrisal, in an article in the Journal of the West:

“Wovoka had been influenced by Presbyterians on whose ranch he worked, by Mormons, and by the Indian Shaker Church.”

The Shoshone and Bannock quickly took up the new Ghost Dance. The Bannock, whose language is Northern Paiute, easily understood Wovoka’s doctrine and passed it on to their Shoshone neighbors who in turn passed it on to the Shoshone at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Brigham Madsen reports:

“Fort Hall, therefore, became one of the distribution centers of the new religion to the Indians of the northern plains.”

Wodziwob’s Ghost Dance

During the nineteenth century there were a number of religious movements that developed among diverse Indian tribes. One of these, called the Ghost Dance by non-Indians, arose among the Paiute in Nevada.

In 1868, Paiute healer Fish Lake Joe, also known as Wodziwob, had a dream which empowered him to lead the souls of those who had died in previous months back to their mourning families. Wodziwob already had the power to lay next to a patient, send his soul out, and bring the patient’s soul back to the body, thus restoring life.

Wodziwob experienced a series of visions in which the destiny of the Indian people was revealed to him. In his first vision, which occurred during a fast in the mountains, he saw the earth swallowing up the Americans. In a second vision, he saw the Americans being killed by an earthquake. In a third vision, he was told that only the believers would be resurrected.

He also saw in his visions a new dance. It called for men, women, and children to join in alternating circles of males and females dancing to the left with fingers interlocked with the dancers on each side. The dance was to be performed for at least five nights in succession. During the dance, some of the dancers would receive visions giving them new songs and ultimately would restore Indian resources. The new dance quickly spread to the northern California tribes.

The new spiritual movement was called the Ghost Dance (not be to confused with the Ghost Dance of Wovoka which spread to the Great Plains and resulted in the massacre at Wounded Knee).

The following year, Wodziwob announced his expanded powers to bring back the souls of the dead. Since he already had a reputation for being able to bring back the souls of those who had recently died, his message was favorably received.

He exhorted the people to paint themselves and to dance the traditional round dance. In this dance men, women, and children joined in alternating circles of males and females dancing to the left with fingers interlocked with the dancers on each side. As the dancers stopped to rest, Wodziwob fell into a trance. When he returned he reported that he had journeyed to the land of the dead, he had seen the souls of the dead happy in their new land, and that he had extracted promises from them to return to their loved ones in perhaps three or four years.

The dance was to be performed for at least five nights in succession. The dancers decorated themselves with red, black, and white paint. During the dance, some of the dancers received visions which gave them new songs and which they felt would ultimately restore Indian resources. The new dance quickly spread to the northern California tribes.

Wodziwob’s Ghost Dance religion represented a radical departure from the religious traditions of the Great Basin. It represented a synthesis of the traditional Paiute belief in visions, and the traditional practice of circle dancing associated with antelope charming and other subsistence pursuits. It also seems to borrow from Sahaptian or Salishan Indians of the Plateau and Northwest Coast in the belief in prophets, prophecies, and return of the dead.

In 1870, Wodziwob (also known as Tavibo) was visited by Indians from Oregon and Idaho. The Shoshone and Bannock from Idaho’s Fort Hall Reservation and the Shoshone from Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation became active proselytizers for the new religion and sponsored a number of Ghost Dances. Among those attending these dances were people from the Ute, Gosiute, and Navajo tribes.

At this time, the Ghost Dance also began to move into California. The Modoc brought word of the Ghost Dance to the Shasta.

In 1871, Wodziwob’s Ghost Dance  spread from the Paiute in Nevada to a number of California tribes, including the Washo, Mono, Modoc, Klamath, Shasta, Karok, Achumawi, Northern Yana, Wintun, Hill Patwin, and Pomo. Mono chief Joijoi learned of the Ghost Dance from Moman, a Paiute Ghost Dance leader. Joijoi then sponsored the first Mono Ghost Dance at Saganiu and invited many other tribes to attend. Joijoi then spread the word of the dance throughout California.

The new religious movement revitalized the tribal traditions and molded itself to the local customs. While the shared core of the ceremony was a dance in which the participants held hands and side-stepped in a sunwise (clockwise) fashion, each of the tribes adopting the ceremony modified it to fit their own cultural traditions.  The Ghost Dance was instrumental in reshaping native shamanism and it helped native Californians withstand pressures to adopt Christianity.

In 1871, the Ghost Dance was introduced to the Siletz and Grand Rhonde Reservations in Oregon by the California Shasta.

In 1872, the Ghost Dance diffused from the Paiute in Nevada to the Pomo in California. The new religious movement was brought to the Pomo by Lame Bull, a Patwin prophet and a Southwestern Pomo called Wokox. Among the Pomo, the Ghost Dance became a revivalistic movement that promised its followers that the American invaders would be killed by a natural disaster. Following this, the traditional Indian ways would return again.

In 1872, the Paiute had now been dancing under the direction of Wodziwob for four years. At this time, he had another dream in which he realized that the souls of the dead which he had seen were only shadows. With horror, Wodziwob realized that his prophecy was no more than a cruel trick of the evil witch owl. He confessed his sad disillusion to the Paiutes, and they ceased dancing to attract back their loved ones. Wodziwob died shortly after this.

While the Ghost Dance inspired by Wodziwob’s vision failed to bring back the dead, it did result in a new determination to maintain Indian culture and to establish new ways compatible with the contemporary world. The tribes that incorporated the Ghost Dance worked out new ceremonies, amalgamations of old, borrowed, and newly invented rituals, and made these the center of community life.

The Ghost Dance After Wounded Knee

When describing the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890, many history books make two major errors: (1) they claim that this was the end of the Ghost Dance movement, and (2) they claim that this was the last armed conflict between Indians and the U.S. military. Neither of these is true. The Ghost Dance movement originated with the vision of the Paiute prophet Wovoka and continues to be celebrated today. It did not die at Wounded Knee.  

The Ghost Dance:

The Ghost Dance movement began with a vision which was received by Wovoka. Among the Paiute, the dance was a Paiute world-renewal dance in which the dancers would hold hands as they danced in a circle with a side-step motion. The innovations by Wovoka were primarily in the form of new songs. Among the Paiute, as well as among other American Indians, individuals who received instructions in their visions were encouraged to compose new songs and to modify the ceremonies to conform to their visions.

The Ghost Dance movement spread quickly to the Northern Plains, particularly to tribes whose Sun Dance ceremony had been repressed by the government. On the Plains, the Ghost Dance became a four-day round dance in which the dancers would hold hands as they danced sun-wise (clockwise) with a side step. During the dance, the leaders (known as prophets) would wave eagle-wing fans before the faces of the dancers and/or shine mirrors in their faces. Coupled with the singing and dancing, this would help induce a trance state among the dancers and in this state they would be transported to a world in which they would see their departed relatives from the pre-reservation era.

Among the Plains tribes, the Ghost Dance also included special shirts and dresses, usually made of buckskin or white muslin, which were decorated with symbols which referred to the dancer’s visions. These symbols were often stars, suns, moons, eagles, and other birds. Among the Sioux, the followers of the Ghost Dance felt that their Ghost Dance clothing was able to deflect bullets.

On the Rosebud Reservation, Short Bull described the dance among his people:

“First: purification by sweat bath. Clasp hands and circle to left. Hold hands and sing until a trance is induced, looking up all the time. Brought to pitch of excitement by singing songs prescribed by the Messiah. Dress as prescribed. Froth at mouth when in trance. They must keep step with the cadence of the song. The[y] go into trance in from ten minutes to three quarters of an hour. Each one described his vision. Each vision is different from others. Men, women, children have visions.”

Northern Plains:

While many historians claim that the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 ended the Ghost Dance movement among the Sioux and other Northern Plains tribes, the Ghost Dance actually continued to spread among the tribes. It is important to remember that all Indian religions were illegal at this time so the Ghost Dance had to be kept away from the Indian agents and other non-Indians.

In 1891, Northern Arapaho leader Black Coal was dubious about the merits of the Ghost Dance. He sent a delegation-Yellow Eagle, Washington, Goes in Lodge, Black Bear, and Michael Goodman-from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming to Nevada to investigate the claims. When the delegation returned, they spoke against the movement-or at least that is what the Indian agent was told. However, many Arapaho, including Sharp Nose, continued to participate in Ghost Dance ceremonies.

At this same time, the Shoshone on the Wind River Reservation abandoned the Ghost Dance. The Indian agent assumed that they abandoned the dance because the predicted new world had not materialized.

In 1891, the Gros Ventre in Montana were introduced to the Ghost Dance by the Northern Arapaho from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The Arapaho also transferred the associated hand game bundle ritual to several Gros Ventre men. The Gros Ventre and the Arapaho are linguistically and culturally related tribes.

In 1892, with reduced rations the Arapaho on the Wind River Reservation were starving and many turned to the Ghost Dance for help. With tears running down their cheeks, they sang:

Father, have pity on me,

Father, have pity on me.

I am crying for thirst,

I am crying for thirst.

All is gone-I have nothing to eat,

All is gone-I have nothing to eat.

In 1900, the Department of the Interior, at the request of the Indian agent for the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana, ordered that Porcupine be arrested, confined, and punished for being a leader in Wovoka’s Ghost Dance movement. He was subsequently arrested and turned over to the commanding officer of Fort Keogh where he was to do hard labor. There was no trial: Indians did not have any rights in the eyes of the Indian agents even though the courts had consistently ruled that the Constitution applied to Indians. The Indian Office (now known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs) and its reservation agents simply imprisoned any Indians who opposed their programs.

In 1902, the Ghost Dance was revived among the Assiniboine on the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Reservations in Montana by Kicking Bear and Short Bull, Sioux Ghost Dance leaders from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Assiniboine incorporated sacred red and white paint, feathers, and medicines for healing into the dances. They obtained these materials through the mail from Wovoka.

The fact that Kicking Bear and Short Bull were both acknowledged Ghost Dancer leaders from Pine Ridge is a good indication that the Ghost Dance was still alive on this reservation at this time even though the officials on the reservations would deny it.

In 1902, Fred Robinson, an Assiniboine from Montana who was living among the Sioux on the Moose Woods Reserve in Saskatchewan, received instruction on Wovoka’s Ghost Dance creed from Kicking Bear. Moose Woods was under the control of a Methodist minister at this time, so there was no place on the reserve for a rival religion. However, at the Round Plain Reserve there were many who were receptive to the new religion. By 1905, Robinson was receiving Ghost Dance medicines in the mail directly from Wovoka. These medicines included red ocher which was packed into a tomato can.

In 1910, Assiniboine Ghost Dance leader Fred Robinson wrote to the Paiute prophet Wovoka in Nevada and told him of the progress that he was making in preaching the creed among the Sioux on the Round Plain Reserve in Saskatchewan. He wrote:

“I am telling them about the good road and good life and I am telling them too on one side the Bad road and the evil spirit.”

“New Tidings” (Woyaka Teca) is the name applied to Fred Robinson’s version of Wovoka’s teachings.

Southern Plains:

While the Indian agents on the Southern Plains reservations in Oklahoma attempted to suppress the Ghost Dance by jailing participants, there was not the military intervention that had led to the Wounded Knee massacre.

In 1891, Northern Arapaho Ghost Dance leader Sitting Bull (not to be confused with the Sioux leader by the same name) visited the Southern Cheyenne reservation bringing with him the Ghost Dance doctrine. The Arapaho and the Cheyenne had historically been allies and there was a great deal of interaction between the two tribes.

After bringing the Ghost Dance to the Southern Cheyenne, Sitting Bull traveled to nearby reservations in Oklahoma, teaching the Ghost Dance and advising tribes to accept allotment of lands and take annuity payments from the government. Sitting Bull carried the new religion to the Caddo and Wichita. It was here that Pawnee ceremonial leader Frank White became converted to the new religion.

Having heard about the Ghost Dance and Wovoka from Sitting Bull, the Caddo send Billy Wilson and Squirrel to talk with the Paiute prophet Wovoka in Nevada. Two Wichita delegates-Nashtowi and Lawrie Tatum-and one Delaware delegate-Jack Henry-travelled with them. They returned to the Oklahoma reservations impressed and reverent of Wovoka and his theology of peace and healing.

Having learned about the Ghost Dance from the Caddo and Wichita, Frank White began to teach the doctrine and songs of the Ghost Dance to the southern bands of the Pawnee. He told the people to prepare for the coming of the kingdom:

“You must stop working because when the kingdom comes you won’t take plows or things like that along. That’s not ours.”

At first the songs used in the Pawnee Ghost Dance were Arapaho and Wichita songs.

While White saw himself as a prophet, he was also respectful of Pawnee culture. He met with the elders and discussed his vision. The elders accepted his vision and were satisfied with him in the role of Ghost Dance prophet.

Hundreds of Pawnee gathered to dance the new dance so that they could see their deceased loved ones. In the visions enhanced by the dancing, people saw not only their relatives but also the dead Pawnee doctors and spiritual leaders. These leaders instructed the visionaries in the performances of the rituals and healing arts and advised them to carry out the practices as best they could under the reservation circumstances.

The Indian agent for the Pawnee attended a Ghost Dance and later reported to his superiors that “there has been no Ghost Dance here or at any of our agencies.” The Pawnee gave the appearance of going about their daily lives, ignoring the new dance. By  diverting suspicion from themselves, they were able to explore the Paiute religion and quietly adapt it to their own traditions and beliefs.

Among the Pawnee, the Ghost Dancers wore eagle and crow feathers in their hair. At the beginning of each dance a woman is chosen to bless the dance grounds. At the end of each day of dancing, the dancers move to the center of the circle and then back out slowly shaking their blankets and shawls. In this way they cast off the burdens of the day.

Concerned about the increasing popularity of the Ghost Dance among the Pawnee, the Indian agent wrote to Frank White and ordered him to cease holding Ghost Dances. In addition, White was ordered to return to the Kiowa or Wichita agency. He chose not to leave his people or abandon the Ghost Dance.

In 1892, Joe Carrion (Pawnee) had a vision while visiting with the Southern Arapaho. In this vision, he was told that the Pawnee were able to introduce new innovations in the Ghost Dance. This helped to initiate a reorganization of the Pawnee Ghost Dance in which various individuals who had visions were able to develop their own forms of the dance. In his vision, Joe Carrion was also given the gift of the hand game which is incorporated into the Ghost Dance.

In 1892, the Indian agent for the Pawnee ordered them to stop doing the Ghost Dance. The Pawnee do not stop participating in the ceremony, but take it underground, away from the prying eyes and ears of non-Indians.

In 1894, the Ghost Dance was revived among the Kiowa when Setzepetoi (Afraid-of-Bears), a blind medicine man, had a vision. The revived Ghost Dance was noted for trances in which the supplicants could visit deceased relatives.

Three Pawnee travelled from Oklahoma to Walker Lake, Nevada to receive instructions from Wovoka in 1904. In their meeting with Wovoka they learned more about Wovoka’s initial vision. They also learned the correct ritual for the ceremony, including the use of a special painted tipi.

In 1915, the Kiowa Ghost Dance came to the attention of the Indian agent. The Indian agent, in a campaign to wipe out the Ghost Dance, threatened to withhold per capita payments from all who participated. When the Indian agent found out the identity of the leaders, he had them imprisoned and beaten. The following year, the Indian agent formally banned the Kiowa Ghost Dance because of its opposition to Christianity and allotment. However, several Ghost Dances occured on scattered allotments. The agent obtained a list of the names of 79 participants so that he could withhold their per capita payments.

Drought threatened the Caddo corn crop in 1921. Ghost Dance leader Mr. Squirrel set up the pole in the center of the dance circle. For three days he prayed and danced while the corn burned in the sun. On the fourth day, the rain came.

Before Wounded Knee

In 1890 American fear, xenophobia, and religious intolerance led to the massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. While there have been many books written about this massacre, there were a number of related incidents prior to this.  

Setting the Stage for Violence in 1890:

In South Dakota, the Great Sioux Reservation was broken up into five smaller reservations occupying about half the land as previously. The other half of the reservation was opened up for non-Indian settlement at bargain prices. The proceeds from the sale of the former reservation lands were supposed to go to the Indians as compensation for their lost territory. The railroads were given permission to survey and build lines with no regard for any Sioux concerns.

At that same time, in Nebraska, the Christian Indian newspaper The Word Carrier reported about the Paiute prophet Wovoka:

“The Indians are generally excited over a so-called super-human visitor who is making frequent visits to the Indians in the Rocky Mountains. He performs some sleight of hand work and has made them believe that he is the Christ the Son of God. He is nothing but a petty representation of the Mormons of Utah.”

Wovoka

Paiute prophet Wovoka is shown above.

Missionary Mary Collins reported that Sitting Bull was a Ghost Dance leader. She recommended that he be banished:

“A few years in a prison learning English and a good trade would have a quieting influence upon the old man and his followers.”

While Sitting Bull, like other Indian leaders, was aware of Wovoka as a Paiute prophet in Nevada, he had no contact with him and was not involved with the new religion.

An editorial in the Black Hills Daily Times in response to rumors about the Ghost Dance:

“The Indians must be killed as fast as they make an appearance and before they can do any damage. It is better to kill an innocent Indian occasionally than to take chances on goodness.”

In Nebraska, the Christian Dakota language newspaper Iapi Oaye reported on the Ghost Dance movement with preaching and teaching. Calling Wovoka a false prophet, it quoted Bible verses showing that the religion was wrong.

In South Dakota, Kicking Bear introduced to the Lakota a special shirt. The shirts were decorated with a star and crescent moon and feathers at the shoulders. According to non-Indian sources, he claimed that bullets would not go through these shirts. The new shirts became a part of the Ghost Dance movement among the Sioux.

Kicking Bear’s Ghost Dance shirts seem to have been inspired by the shirts worn by the Arapaho Ghost Dancers. These shirts are made out of white muslin with a painted line of blue and one of yellow on the back. The Arapaho shirts, in turn, seem to have been inspired by the Mormon endowment robes of white muslin ornamented with symbols of their faith.

Anti-Indian Violence in 1890:

In Nebraska, the non-Indian residents of Chadron, concerned about rumors regarding an Indian upr55ising stemming from the Ghost Dance religion, passed a resolution asking for government troops. The resolution states in part:

“Resolved, that the leaders and instigators of criminality in savages should receive at the hands of the Government the punishment the law provides for traitors, anarchists and assassins.”

In South Dakota, Anglo settlers fearing an uprising from the Lakota Ghost Dancers asked the government for rifles and ammunition. Two militia units were organized to kill Indians. South Dakota’s governor told them “Be discreet in killing the Indians.”

At the Cole Ranch, Dead Arm was shot and killed as he rode into the trading post. His body was scalped and allowed to lay in the dirt for three days while cowboys poked sticks at it and photographers took pictures of it.

Near the Lakota Stronghold, the militia ambushed and killed about 75 Ghost Dancers, including women and children. One of the militiamen took seven pack loads of items from the dead — guns, war bonnets, ghost shirts — and used them to start a museum in Chicago.

The United States 8th Cavalry sent out a unit on a reconnaissance mission near the Lakota Stronghold. The unit came across a small band of Lakota and killed them all. The Indians’ guns were removed and the bodies buried. The troops were sworn to secrecy.  

In South Dakota, James McLaughlin, the Indian agent for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, angrily confronted Sioux leader Sitting Bull, telling him that Wovoka’s messiah doctrine was absurd and that Sitting Bull should stop his people from dancing. Sitting Bull replied that he and McLaughlin should go to Nevada and meet with Wovoka to find out first hand about the new religious movement. Sitting Bull promised McLaughlin that he would not hesitate to enlighten his people if Wovoka’s words were false and he would urge them to give up the ritual. McLaughlin refused the challenge. McLaughlin claimed that Sitting Bull was uncooperative, and he threatened the dignified leader with jail.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull is shown above.

Indian police were sent to arrest Lakota leader Sitting Bull because of rumors that he intended to attend the Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge. In a short fight, Sitting Bull and several of his followers were killed by the Indian Police. The Indian agent’s reasons for arresting Sitting Bull:

“Sitting Bull is a polygamist, libertine, habitual liar, active obstructionist, a great obstacle in the civilization of those people, and he is so totally devoid of any of the nobler traits of character, and so wedded to the old Indian ways and superstitions that it is very doubtful if any change for the better will ever come to him.”

The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, in its report on the death of Sitting Bull:

“The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.”

The newspaper was published by L. Frank Baum who later gained fame for his book The Wizard of Oz.

Aftermath:

Commenting on the spread of the Ghost Dance on the Sioux reservations which led to the massacre at Wounded Know, Lakota writer and physician Charles Eastman would write in 1918:

“The teachings of the Christian missionaries had prepared them to believe in a Messiah, and the prescribed ceremonial was much more in accord with their traditions than the conventional worship of the churches.”

Frank White: Pawnee Prophet

( – promoted by navajo)

One of the visitors at an 1891 Comanche Ghost Dance in Oklahoma was Frank White. He sat on the north side of the dance area and ate a lot of peyote. When the Comanche asked him who he was, he said that he was Pawnee. Following the Comanche Ghost Dance, he attended a Ghost Dance among the Wichita. There he once again ate peyote, he watched the dance, and then he joined it.

While dancing, Frank White went into a trance where he saw the stream, the tree, the Messiah, and the village of the people. He saw the people dance, and in his trance he joined them and from them he learned Ghost Dance songs in Pawnee. The English words to the first song he learned are:

The place whence you come,

Now I am longing for.

The place whence you come,

Now I am ever mindful of.

When he woke from the trance he told the people what he had seen. In this way, Frank White became a prophet and the people felt that he had the same power as Sitting Bull, the Arapaho Ghost Dance leader.  

When he returned home to the Pawnee he began to teach the doctrine and the songs of the Ghost Dance to the southern bands. He told the people:

“The kingdom is coming soon now, so the people must prepare. This that I have is called ghost dancing. You must stop working because when the kingdom comes you won’t take plows or things like that along. That’s not ours.”

The version of the Ghost Dance that Frank White gave to the Pawnees was not the same one Sitting Bull had given to the Caddos. In addition, the dance had a different focus than Ghost Dance advocated by the Paiute prophet Wovoka.

While White saw himself as a prophet as a new religious movement, he was also respectful of Pawnee culture. He met with the elders and discussed his vision. The elders accepted his vision and were satisfied with him in the role of Ghost Dance prophet.

Frank White, who was of the Kitkahaxki band, began holding regular Ghost Dances and members of the Skiri band were attending. At first, the songs included Arapaho and Wichita songs as well as the Pawnee songs he had learned in his trance. During the dances, people would have visions which explained other ceremonies which they should be doing. In this way, the Ghost Dance began to grow among the Pawnee.

The Ghost Dance doctrine among the Pawnee held that the dead could communicate with the living through the visions brought about during the dance. In addition to face painting, the Pawnee Ghost Dance included the use of feathers as hair ornaments. In the trance visions, people usually found themselves associated with either the eagle or the crow and thereafter they wore feathers to symbolize this vision.

At the beginning of each dance a woman would be chosen to bless the dance grounds. She would be seated at the door of White’s tipi with her face painted. For this one day she was holy. At the end of each day of dancing, the dancers moved to the center of the circle and then back out slowly shaking their blankets and shawls. In this way they cast off the burdens of the day

In 1892 the government realized that the Pawnee were doing the Ghost Dance and set out to stop it. The Indian agency clerk met with Frank White and told him that he was an impostor and that he was to leave the reservation and never return.  The following morning, over 200 Pawnee, painted with Ghost Dance colors, surrounded the agency and demanded a council. The agent told them that they were following a false Messiah and that the Ghost Dance would not be tolerated. Following the meeting, the Pawnee continued to gather in secret in order to Ghost Dance.

Fearing that the Ghost Dance would interfere with the government’s plan to break up the reservations into allotments, Frank White was arrested remanded to jail. The Pawnee decided to fight to get their prophet back and a party of armed warriors gathered at the railroad station to take him from the marshal. However, the agent sent a telegram and when the train arrived it was filled with soldiers. The Pawnee decide that there were too many soldiers and so the marshal left with White.

While Frank White was away, many Pawnee were persuaded to choose allotments. In dividing up their land, and selling a good part of it, the Pawnee were doing something which was opposed to the faith and doctrine of the Ghost Dance.

After several days in jail a writ of habeas corpus was issued. The judge gave White a lecture on the dangers of indulging in the Ghost Dance. He was then released and returned to the reservation.

While Frank White was in jail, William Hunt emerged as a new Ghost Dance leader. Hunt drastically altered the Ghost Dance.  Rather than dancing, Hunt offered a doctrine that included the laying on of hands. White was angered by the new development and demanded that Hunt be arrested and deported for practicing the Ghost Dance. The agent ignored the demand feeling that it was to his advantage to let the Ghost Dance leaders quarrel among themselves.

Among the Pawnee, Frank White was considered to be the sole authentic prophet of the Ghost Dance and its doctrine. Those who had visions reported them to him. White granted permission to use the vision, to wear feathers, to paint the face, and to put on a dance. For conferring these rights, White was usually given gifts.

Frank White did not live up to the ideals of conduct for a spiritual leader among the Pawnee.  He used peyote – which the Pawnee felt made him wise – but he drank whiskey at the same time. According to one of his contemporaries:

“Whiskey and peyote do not mix, they cannot go together. That’s what killed him.”

He died in 1893, but the Ghost Dance that he brought to the Pawnee continued to live.  

‘ WE MUST BE THE SPIRITUAL CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN CREATOR’S WORLD “

WE MUST BE THE SPIRITUAL CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN CREATOR’S WORLD!

A Native man should always be clean and sober, for he knows there is still more work to do !

Rise with the Sun to pray. Pray alone and pray often. The Great Creator will listen, if you only speak.

From all generations of the past, here now in the present and the unborn generations of the future, the Creator from Sacred Time, Creation Time, First Man and First Woman Time, made all Native People a Holy People.

It is important that we as Native People maintain good self-esteem, self-worth and self-value.

We cannot attack ourselves, beat ourselves up and pound ourselves for crimes we have never committed.

Our Prayer to the Creator represents a different kind a power, a different kind of strength, a different kind of energy.

Stand up with pride when you pray to Creator. Stand with Honor before Creator. Be Proud to be Spiritually alive on the Earth Mother, and thankful and honored to stand before Creator, rather than bowing down like a slave.

All prophecy can be changed. There are things that may happen under the present conditions of our world, but these conditions do not have to stay the way they are, or deteriorate to a more desperate situation.

Native People offer a spiritual solution to the world’s problems.

Many people are interested in the message of Native Spirituality because they are aware of the despairing circumstances of our world and the fact that we must all make changes in order to survive globally.

We offer people hope for a peaceful world by sharing our Spiritual paths with them. We are not selling our ceremonies, or our traditions; we are sharing wisdom.

With Creator’s World Renewal Medicine cycle soon approaching, it is predicted that all First Nation People shall return to our traditional Native ways. Native people will spiritually transform North America back into harmony and balance.

Native and non Native People who walk in the Spiritual ways of the Ancestors will be in control of the Americas.

Native people see the Sun as our Father. The highest of the Earth Mother’s energies are in the morning when Father Sun is rising in the East.

Native people know that morning is the best time to pray for as Father Sun rises, we can place all problems and issues into the past. Native people give spiritual thanks daily for the energy and power of Father Sun.

The purest Spiritual medicine in the World of humankind is of course, the Great Creator of All Things, and the blessing of Father Sun when it rises each morning in the East.

When we as Native people pray, it permits us to have the Creator’s Blessings of healing and understanding, in turn creates peace and love, and brings the full effect of Creator’s harmony and balance to the Earth Mother.

Wado and A-ho, Brothers and Sisters

Mike (Ali) Raccoon Eyes Kinney

http://www.teachingthevaluesof…

MIXED BLOOD NATIVES-THE SILENCE OF INDIAN COUNTRY

MIXED BLOOD NATIVES-THE SILENCE OF INDIAN COUNTRY

BY MIKE RACCOON EYES KINNEY

As was discussed in ‘Mixed Blood Natives-The Silence of Indian Country’ (Part-1),

Quanah Parker as a mixed blood Native made the decision to leave one culture and enter into another culture.

The story of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminloe has a similar theme as well. The Cherokee culture was steeped deeply into the great Meso-American pyramid temple cities as early as 800 A.D. When the Olmecs, Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs were moving from North to into the South deep into Mexico and Central America, they quickly absorbed and embraced building their own great pyramid temple spiritual cities they had observed and seen in the great Cherokee cities of the Southeast.

Cherokee intermarriage to both the Mexican and Central Americans would become the norm for the next 300 years. The mixed blood Cherokees would hold a high place of honor within the Meso-American world of Mexico and Central America. For the mixed blood Cherokee of the time were the priests, prophets, engineers and administrators, who were the elite of running the new spiritual pyramid temple cities of both Mexico and Central America. Without the mixed blood Cherokees, the great pyramid temple cities in Mexico and Central America would cease to run, much less function.

The Cherokee started having intergenerational marriage and ‘sexual relationships with the Europeans in the early 1700’s. Many Cherokee bands and families were quick to see the economic benefits of having trade, land and business dealings with Europeans. In a sense this could be viewed as a classic Cherokee version of the ‘hang around the fort Indians’. However this story was not true for the majority of mixed blood Cherokee people of that time!

For the the upper class elite of mixed blood Cherokee of the late 1700s and early 1800s, it was not uncommon for them to have extensive plantations, a lavish life-style that would have not been uncommon in London or Paris and a sizable work force of African slaves. Many well to do mixed blood Cherokee were highly educated in New York, Washington D.C. or even London.

The preference of mixed blood Cherokee men of the time were to marry European or other mixed blood Cherokee women. Their children and grandchildren would follow suit. The new generation of light-skinned mixed blood bourgeoisie Cherokee would wash their hands of and renounce the traditional ways of Cherokee culture and Spirituality.

However, there was another side to the mixed blood Cherokee people, that has been neglected and treated with silence. The story is that of the traditional mixed blood Cherokee that retained their cultural and Spiritual identities.

The traditional mixed blood Cherokee lived along the side of their full blood cousins in the pre-1830’s in large rural wilderness areas that were isolated communities of families and bands in vast tracks of land through out the greater Southeast of the U.S.

Even during the days of post Contact, while the Europeans were eco-raping the land, extensive outreach by the missionaries to convert out People by force and the Federals in league with newly established State of Georgia authorities were to use brutal and ruthless tactics to remove remove the Real People from our lands with the discovery of gold, both mixed and full blood Cherokee people still retained an amazing amount of sovereignty and autonomy because they knew both spiritually and culturally they were the Creator’s original Holy People.

The Indian Killer Jackson enforced the new Indian Removal Act at the heart land of our Great Cherokee Nation in the mid and late 1830s. Bluecoat soldiers started first with the Cherokee in the new policy or ethnic cleansing, relocation and the reservation system. So began ‘Our Trail of Our Tears. where 20,000 Cherokee were relocated to Indian Territory. No one was spared! Not full or mixed bloods or even the bourgeoisie Cherokee were spared from Jackson’s vision of hell to kill our People!

However, large pockets of both mixed and full blood Cherokee families and bands did manage to escape and offer a sizable resistance coming from Cherokee country. My own family, the Raccoon Eyes were one such family. My Great, great, great, Grandmother- Polly Raccoon Eyes was born in 1714 in Rowan County, North Carolina, she was a full blood woman of the Eastern Band. When Polly was 12 years of age she was a domestic to the Newsome family. In the year 1726, Polly and the Newsome family walked some 400 miles from North Carolina to our family village in Southeast Kentucky.

They would eventually settle in the high hills and river country at a location called Sooky’s Creek. Sooky’s Creek was our old historical family village and it had old burial mounds of our Cherokee ancestors dating back so 4,000 years. It was the homeland of the Raccoon Eyes band. Elder Newsome a white Englishman would leave his wife and family to join Polly as his common law wife. From the time she was 18 years of age and older, Polly would bear some 12 sons and daughter in their union.

It was here that the mixed blood lineage of the Raccoon Eyes family would begin at our family village at Sooky’s Creek. It was here where the Raccoon Eyes family would fight a successful guerilla war against Jackson’s Bluecoat Indian killers.

The mixed blood Cherokee were killing high numbers of Bluecoat soldiers in Southeast Kentucky. However bullets were running low for the long rifles, hunger and starvation were abundant and the hard brutal winters were taking it’s toll on the children, women and Elders in the campaign against the Bluecoats and their allies.

The mixed and full blood elders and ancestors had to make the decision to surrender and turn themselves in so they could survive as a People! They were forced to take missionary surname, embrace a alien Deity and the most hideous of act all… to have forced sexual relations with the white conquerors. The ultimate goal and reason our Cherokee men and women did this for was to keep lightening and lightening our skin color until we could ‘pass for white’. It was the only way as the Real Cherokee People could survive and not become victims of more ethnic cleansing.

Until a generation of fair-skinned, Blue-eyed Cherokee was created! It was the most painful and heart-breaking decisions that our Elders made at the time! BUT WHAT ELSE COULD THEY HAVE DONE?? But we have fulfilled their dream to be alive and celebrate our survival as a People.

I honor and give thanks to my Elder’s decisions to let the Raccoon Eyes family to continue to live and exist! And their are hundreds of thousands of we mixed blood Cherokee people alive today to tell our stories and celebrate that we the REAL PEOPLE are still here! We are just as a part of the history of Indian Country as any other Native people! I always celebrate Native folks who look like us.

Like Quanah Parker who chose to leave his Father’s world and live among his Mother’s world, I chose some 35 years ago to leave my Mother’s mainstream world and enter into my Father’s world of being who and what I truly am…..a Native Man!

Cousins, I tell it was the best decision I ever made. To reclaim my Culture, my Spirituality and most importantly my….life!

We can no longer afford as mixed blood People of Turtle Island to sit in silence and ignorance of the reality of who we are as true Native People! We can no longer sit back and attack ourselves, beat ourselves up and pound ourselves for crimes we have NEVER committed. It now time to view we mixed blood Native People, with good self-esteem, good self-worth and good self value. For this was the Creator’s plan!

Remember all WE Native People are the Creator’s Holy People!

Wado and A-ho my Brothers and Sisters,